Fluff and futility

Confession: Gnosticism was almost the end of me.

The twelve-year-old idealist who was bound and determined to be a missionary grew up, got married, had a few babies, and settled into life in a small American city.

Her life got harder. Quite a bit harder. Without going into all the details, she found far less time for moonlight dances and wildflower bouquets. There was a whole lot of laundry. And long, dark winters. And disappointment, and grownup pain. Less innocence. More cares.

She did alright as long as she didn’t ask why. Why was she doing all this meaningless stuff—washing the dishes over and over, working the soil, feeding the bodies, scrubbing and dressing?

She was weary of her old body, and all these things. She longed for the sweet serenity of heaven, the end of pain, the rest after hard work. Her husband tried to pull her up. “There’s good stuff here,” he said. “What do you look forward to? What do you dream of? You’re like a soldier who wants to be sent home in peace before fighting the war.”

One year she saw a doctor, who told her she was depressed and put her on medication.

And about a month afterward, she sat in a large community song service and listened to 200 voices gaily singing “Some glad morning, when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away… Just a few more weary days and then I’ll fly away…” She turned to her husband and laughed.

“See?” she said. “We all sing it. We all are okay with this philosophy; it’s woven into many of our songs. I took it seriously, believed it to be more than just words, and they put me on medication.”

Long story short, I am a recovering Gnostic. A repenting Gnostic. An oh-Jesus-how-can-I-thank-you-for-the-chance-to-live-again! Gnostic.

That is why my husband, to this day, raises his hackles when he hears phrases like “Death is a reward to the Christian” or “It’s all gonna burn anyway…”

He knows what happens when someone takes it too seriously—despair and ultimate futility.


Today I share story. Tomorrow I share theory.

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11 years ago

So agree… my husband (who is far more the history/NT scholar than I am) has long said that Paul would be concerned about the Mennonites’ bent toward Gnosticism if he were here today!
Yes, the world is a hard -and sometimes corrupt/evil/fill-in-the-blanks- place sometimes, but sometimes in myself I see a spirit of laziness… I would rather be in a place (heaven?) where everything is easy and clean, and people think and feel just like I do instead of trying to sift through all difficulties, conflict, and drama that being in a broken world brings.
Not to mention a 2 year old daughter who currently loves to quietly play with her feces (when her mother is unaware that she has pooped) and rub it over herself and surrounding objects.

11 years ago

Sorry, I over-used the word “sometimes”. Writing in haste has its downsides.

Shari Zook
11 years ago
Reply to  Peg

No problem. Thanks, Peg!

I hear you, and Michael. But I’d argue it’s not just Mennonites–we’re not the ones who wrote the songs. 🙂

11 years ago

Oh, absolutely. A common problem across Christianity… Just that since being Amish/Mennonite our whole lives, that’s the only denomination we have to draw from in terms of personal experience.

11 years ago

Shari – That’s not easy to share a story like that. I loved your blog before, but I love you even more now. I know the phrase “keepin’ it real” is overused, but I never get sick of it because it’s not an easy thing to do, to keep it real. It’s easy (especially online) to be perky and portray a persona that’s not authentic. It’s so hard having to go through some of the things we do in order to come out the other side. Blessings to you ~

11 years ago

So, so glad you decided to stay and fight. The earth is not the devil’s. I see no reason to leave it to him.

Proud of you, girl.

11 years ago

I just led that Gnostic anthem in church this morning. What is the ethical thing to do when somebody requests unorthodox songs? I opted for gellasenheit.

What always baffles me are the hundreds of sincere, Christ-following disciples who obviously find hope and joy in these ideas. Makes me wonder if they’re blind or if I’m missing something.

11 years ago

Thanks for sharing your story, Shari! There are many things that I identify with. Thanks for being real.

Carla Zehr
11 years ago

What a great series of titles to these posts! I love you and your story.
There’s more I could say, but I’m being jostled 🙂

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago

I love this, you have opened my eyes to some of the struggles I have had for years. One of the things that was brought to my attention recently was that the beauty that we see here on earth is but a taste of what we will experience in Heaven. There’s so much to think on since reading this post. Like I get why when I read a book like Amy Carmichael I wrestled with feeling like I should be more like her and yet feeling like something seemed wrong about some of her beliefs. Sorry if this sounds jumbled. You’ve just given me a lot to think on. Hmmm,… me thinks I’m a struggling Gnostic. How I would love to sit down and chat with you about this!

Janelle Glick
11 years ago

How can two ladies’ stories be so similar? Almost freaky, really. Thanks for writing. I love you.

11 years ago

I can SO identify with this post! And a husband who could not understand my lack of desire for living. In looking back, I realize I was depressed as well, and am thankful to say that I enjoy life now more than I did for years. I attribute the difference partly to my change of thinking while I attended Winter Term at Faith Builders and saw how I had a Gnostic world view. I used to not even be able to enjoy a good book without feeling guilty, because it wasn’t “spiritual” enough. Life became a bondage of never doing enough spiritual stuff and I was miserable. I admit I do still look forward to being released from this old body with its aches and pains and groanings, though. 🙂

11 years ago

I found your blog through a link on fb and am enjoying reading bits and pieces as I have moments tonight. I don’t think I know you at all but your words make me want to sit and chat with you. 🙂 Blessings

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